Can you wear a modular helmet open?

Annual police speed crackdown modular

Motorcycle police often ride around with the chin bar on their modular or flip-up helmets in the up position, but is it safe or legal?

It makes sense that a modular helmet worn open is not as safe as when it is worn as a full-face helmet.

In fact, the Hurt Report found that the most common area of impact is the chin at 19.4%.

Icon Airframe Statistic motorcycle helmet modular
Icon Airframe Statistic motorcycle helmet shows impact areas by percentage

Most modular helmet manufacturers recommend to users that they do not ride with the chin bar up.

Modular helmets certified

However, some have been able to have their modular helmets certified for use in the up position.

Australian Motorcycle Council helmet law expert Guy Stanford says helmets such as the Shark Evo are designed to be worn open.

That’s because The chin bar goes all the way over to the back of the helmet where it locks into position.

SharkEvo modelar helmet
SharkEvo modelar helmet

In that position it does not pose an aerodynamic impediment. Nor can it accidentally close and obstruct the rider’s view.

Open modular ‘not illegal’

However, neither Guy nor long-time helmet law campaigner Wayne Carruthers believe it is illegal to ride with the chin bar up.

There is no specific mention of chin bars in the Australia Road Rules.

However, it could be considered not being correctly fastened. Although that wording specifically refers only to a “chin strap”.

“No rules have really caught up with the Shark Evo type helmets designed to be ridden open or closed,” Wayne says.

“I doubt it would be feasible or appropriate to even try.”

Police modular helmets

As for police wearing helmets in the up position when riding, they believe it can be advantageous on occasions.

Police cops speed speeding charity ride helmet cameras modular

Besides, if there is an interpretation that it is illegal, they would not necessarily be bound by the road rules.

Police may be exempt from the road rules when responding to priority one or two jobs. For example, police wear helmet cameras despite them being considered illegal in some states

However, nether Wayne nor Guy have ever heard of anyone being fined for having the chin bar up.

Some riders understandably ride around city streets with the chin bar open on hot days.

However, few ride the open highways with the chin bar up. The wind drag is simply too tiring on the neck muscles.

12 Comments

  1. 19.4% of impacts to chin & 80.6% of impacts to other areas
    means the chin was the least likely to be hit.

    Also, chin is right at front of jaw; most of area marked as chin in pic is at the side.

    Statistics . . . . . . . . . . .

    1. The percentages show only add up to 100% if you assume the other half of the helmet has the same numbers. So front jaw impacts are 38.8%. (19.4% + 19.4%).

  2. When I bought a BMW modular it specifically stated that riding with the chin bar up negated the safety feature of the helmet and that BMW would not accept any liability.
    On the basis that having the chin bar up dynamically impacts on the aerodynamics of the helmet I cannot see how it can be considered safe to do so.
    As to the police I think we all know they are a law unto themselves

  3. Police in New Zealand have a policy that the helmets have to be closed at speeds higher than 50 kmh. I can’t think of a time it’s been enforced. Sounds like a good idea to me.

    1. Interesting as there was an accident recently in Adelaide involving a motorcycle cop and it was reported that he had severe head and facial injuries.
      As per normal after the original report all has been hushed up

  4. The point is not whether are illegal or not. The point should be whether they are as safe as the full face helmets.
    And the answer….no.
    Modular helmets are comfortable to wear but they can’t be as safe as full face just because….wait for it….they are modular!
    The chin, which is the first point of contact of the rider’s face is not covered. Cause you are getting a modular helmet because you want to use the ability to remove the chin for extra comfort.
    It’s a personal responsibility which each rider should take into consideration before buying a helmet.

  5. The Cop in the top photo seems to have all manner of non standard gubbins, protruding more than 5mm, attached to the outside of his helmet.

  6. My Nolan is designed to be worn open or shut. Actually has a lock to ensure it stays open. I usually open it at low speeds like running through a country town.. other times it is closed. Actually I would love to wear an open face… but too old to be silly now 🙂

  7. The Shark Evo One helmets have been Dual homologated certified under ECE 22.05.

    There are not that many flip helmets that have this certification so be advised.

  8. Whose doing the statistics on the butcher’s block man’s cut of that helmet? What are the percentages meant to add up to?

    Open face helmets are legal and everyone who wears them knows it’s going to hurt more if they break their fall with their chin.

    Tell you what…wore a riding balaclava the other night and nearly suffocated.

  9. Are we the only country in the world so incredibly anal about the fine print of legislation. Do police forces in other countries waste as much time with this trivial crap Really who cares? non compliant visors? cameras? interstate compliance issues? Dont police and our legal systems really have nothing better to do . Or is it just fat arsed public servant job justification. And you must wonder if the police have nothing better to do than running around looking at helmets they have way too much time on their hands..Maybe we can trim the numbers a bit

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